Romani Studies

The sedentarisation of Roma in the Soviet Union after 1956: A case study from the former Belarussian Soviet Socialist Republic1

Romani Studies (2015), 25, (1), 23–51.

Abstract

Drawing on interviews with people who experienced sedentarisation – on participant observation and on conversations in Romani communities as well as statistical data and official documents – I analyse the transition to sedentary life among Roma in the former Belarussian Soviet Socialist Republic. The article begins with an analysis of the socio-economic and political processes that led to the sedentarisation of Roma in the Soviet Union. The dilemma is whether to consider the sedentarisation of Roma to be the result of Soviet assimilation policy or an adaptation response to socio-economic change. The second part of the article focuses on the transition to a sedentary life-style and its long-term impacts on Romani communities – urbanisation processes, the emergence of new economic strategies and change in social structures. I argue that social change among Roma, along with Soviet and post-Soviet transformations of a society as a whole, caused increased alienation between Romani and non-Romani populations.

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BARTASH, VOLHA